Oscars 2020: snubs, shade, and sweeps


Bart Carmody

Director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho holding 4 Oscar statues. @theacademy
Director of Parasite, Bong Joon-ho holding 4 Oscar statues. @theacademy
Laura Dern won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Marriage Story. @theacademy
Laura Dern won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Marriage Story. @theacademy

The 92nd Academy Awards took place on Sunday, Feb. 9, and for many reasons was a pivotal moment for the culture of awards shows. There are plenty of wins, losses, snubs and bizarreness to unravel, so let’s start with the red carpet.

As awards shows are more politically-charged than ever, there were some polarizing looks on the carpet this year. Perhaps the most notable was Natalie Portman’s Dior dress complete with a matching cape embroidered with names such as “Gerwig” and “Wang.” If you don’t recognize these names, it’s okay, because the Academy doesn’t either. The names represent the female directors whose films did not receive nominations. Without saying a word, Portman shouted out “Hustlers” director Lorene Scafaria, “Little Women” director Greta Gerwig, “The Farewell” director Lulu Wang, “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el and more. Another woke wardrobe choice was from “Booksmart” star Beanie Feldstein, who proudly wore a blue ACLU ribbon atop her Miu Miu dress, an admirable nod towards advocating for marginalized groups.

On the more wholesome side of things, Keanu Reeves brought his mom to the show and the two looked adorable walking the carpet together. “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood” star Julia Butters cleverly packed some sandwiches in her purse as a mid-ceremony snack. Spike Lee sported a touching tribute to the late Kobe Bryant: a custom Gucci purple-and-gold suit with a “24” patch stitched on.

After the attendees shuffled into the Dolby Theatre, the ceremonies began. The night started strong with a staggering performance by Janelle Monáe, whose act included some films that were either snubbed or excluded from the ceremonies completely, like “Little Women,” Melina Matsoukas’s “Queen & Slim” and Ari Aster’s “Midsommar.” Even “Pose” star Billy Porter joined Monáe to deliver a few energizing bars. Afterward, comedians Steve Martin and Chris Rock delivered a not-so-warm welcome to the crowd. The two relentlessly went after the Academy’s exclusions towards female directors and black nominees and even went joke for-joke on the attendance of Jeff Bezos. Among these presentations was Billie Eilish’s chilling cover of “Yesterday” by the Beatles and Eminem’s confusing surprise performance of “Lose Yourself,” which, if anything, turned out to be a good opportunity for meme creators.

As for the awards themselves, it was a monumental night for the Oscars. Brad Pitt won Best Supporting Actor for his role in “Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood,” and in his speech included some jabs at the shady nature of the impeachment process. “They told me I only have 45 seconds up here,” the actor said, “which is 45 seconds more than the Senate gave John Bolton this week.” The joke, clever as it was, received hesitant but supportive applause from the crowd.

For Best Supporting Actress, Laura Dern finally got her incredibly overdue Oscar for her role in “Marriage Story.” During her post-show press room speech, the actor shouted out director Gerwig and commented on women in the film industry. Dern stated, “I think that our lens should focus perhaps less on the lack of accolades, and more on the (lack) of opportunities and second chances given to female voices,” which segues into the most disappointing part of any awards show: the snubs.

As previously mentioned, there was a stark lack of female directors and black nominees in the running, even though 2019 was a huge year for movies of the like. Films like “Little Women,” “Honey Boy,” “The Farewell,” “Queen & Slim,” “Us” and “Dolemite Is My Name” were either snubbed or excluded entirely from their respective categories. Other films such as “The Lighthouse,” “Midsommar” and “Climax” were also noticeably missing from the night.

As for wins and losses, there are always some unavoidable upsets. University junior Brittany Opinate said, “I think that ‘Toy Story 4’ should not have won Best Animated Feature. ‘Klaus’ was far more impressive and deserved it way more.”

A notable win of the night was Taika Waititi’s “Jojo Rabbit,” which won for Best Adapted Screenplay. Waititi is the first indigenous person to win in this category, making history at the Oscars.

Another spawn of controversy from the night was “Joker” not winning Best Picture, as waves of tweets and YouTube videos showcased a very upset fanbase. However, that wasn’t the most controversial part of the night for “Joker”—Joaquin Phoenix’s acceptance speech for his Best Actor in a Leading Role award caused quite a stir as well. Phoenix took the stage to talk about the unethical and unsustainable plundering of resources that humankind commits on a daily basis, even diving into the grisly details of mass production in the dairy industry. The crowd seemed reluctant to warm up to Phoenix’s proclamations, but the speech still proved to be daring and boundary-pushing.

Perhaps the most unforgettable part of the night was South Korean filmmaker Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” winning Best Original Screenplay, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Director and Best Picture. This absolute sweep of awards left people astonished and electrified, mainly because “Parasite” is the first foreign film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. This win for the cast and crew is forecasted to open up new doorways for foreign filmmakers and actors at the Oscars. Even Joon-ho himself described the honor as very course-changing, saying, “I feel like a very opportune moment in history is happening right now. I express my deepest gratitude and respect for all the members of the Academy for making this decision.” Throughout his several speeches, he expressed nothing but pure humbleness, gratitude and even some humor, ending one speech with, “I am ready to drink tonight. Thank you.”

Overall, through political commentary, long-deserved recognition and unprecedented, groundbreaking triumphs, the 92nd Academy Awards were a success and set a promising example for future ceremonies.